From Chaos to Clarity: Lessons Learned in Recovery
“The lotus flower blooms the most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.” – Buddhist Proverb
So, I’ve been thinking a long time about this post. Not only about writing it, but also publishing it. I took it as a sign that my 10 year anniversary of sobriety is coming up in a few weeks, and a lot has changed over this past decade. I got into recovery when I was 23. I don’t write this in thinking that I am somehow more special than most, as I am aware that everyone has their struggles. In fact, this is exactly why I am writing.
My childhood contains no unusual, terrible secrets. I lived in nice neighborhoods, with great schools and caring parents. Point is, I am just like most people, except that I could not handle life on life’s terms. My anxiety has always been high, to the point of annoyance for some. So, I drank. Then, I became fun – at least to myself. I forgot about the worries. I forgot about my insecurities. I felt normal.
Although, I have repeatedly stated how like everyone else I am, there is a part that is very different. My body cannot handle alcohol. I chose to take it out of the equation, and put the broken pieces back together.
And I do not see myself as holier-than-thou. In fact, my experiences to this day have taught me how complicated life is and how the inside story does not always match what the outer cover shows. Everyone has a story. The gift I was given through sobriety is the awareness that I am the author of my own story. I can rewrite at any time and I control my reactions to the given plot.
My point is, we are all dealing with some –“thing”. Some have overcome a huge life hurdle. Some are in the middle of it. And for others, hard times may be on the horizon. This post is dedicated to those who have struggled, who are struggling, and who may soon be struggling. We deal only with what we can handle, as it is destined to make us stronger if we can make it through.
Living life as it happens is hard work for me. It is in my nature to panic, to run, to want to go numb, and the only way I was going to get ahead of this was to accept things as they happened, to accept myself as I happened. The good, the bad and the ugly.
The best thing about truth was said so well by Mark Twain when he stated, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Additionally, with truth, fear has so much less power. To tell the truth is to speak from our hearts, recognizing it may not be met with agreement, but knowing it will keep us moving towards the next right thing. When we can speak our truth, we can open ourselves to hear the truth, and know that we will be ok. Truth never changes, yet our perception as to what is true is always evolving.
In the beginning, I cried. A lot. Years of holding in feelings can do that to a person. But then, I learned to equilibrate a bit. I do believe dis-ease manifests in our bodies if we don’t deal with our feelings as they come. Fear was my nemesis and took residence in my stomach. Once I was able to not only acknowledge my feelings, but work through them, much of my stomach issues disappeared. Cleaning up my eating was the other part of the equation, and that came secondary to dealing with my feelings. One thing at a time, one moment at a time.
Sober, now what?
I had to learn new things. I had to learn new behavior. I had to learn how to just be.
I got my first big job in sobriety. I got married sober. I bought my first house sober. I had my children all in sobriety.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t ever think about drinking. Believe me, sometimes the thought is so appealing, as life can feel overwhelming, I want to just check out. It’s like the last 10 years never existed. Luckily, today I have the tools to see though and know the havoc it would wreak on my life. So, for today, I choose sobriety, sanity and health. Not because I think I am better, but because I know myself, and I believe in tomorrow.
Lastly, I want to make it clear what this post is about. It is about struggling. It is about personal success. It is about dropping the façade and finding out who we really are, and using this life right in front of us to do so. So, despite the hard times, there are a few things I have learned:
Being in reovery doesn’t make everything easier; it just helps accept life as it happens, with grace.
Sometimes you know you need to do something, and don’t know how you’re going to get there but you have faith and do it anyway.
I cannot control other people, but I can control my reaction to them.
I can ask for help and I can help others.
We don’t always get what we want, but we always get what we need.
I can apologize for something I’ve done, and it doesn’t mean I am sorry for who I am.
Not everyone will like me, and that’s ok. I don’t like everyone either.
I can start over at any time. I am not my mistakes, but I can learn from them.
My definition of fun has changed. I know true joy.
I don’t have a right to judge others, but I do have the right to judge for myself whether the actions of others are good for me.
Why The Nourished Seedling
The Nourished Seedling is about nourishing the seed inside all of us – it’s there for the taking. I stopped growing when I started drinking. And when I stopped drinking, I started growing. I learned to watch what I put into my body, the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff. I graduated college, went onto earn a Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition and began a year-long training to become a Registered Yoga Teacher.
I was all in. I couldn’t live life the way I used to, or I would go back to that life. I was given a new chance at life, and I was determined to make the most of it. I still struggle with the feeling that I lost so much time, despite getting sober at 23. I want the best for my kids, my husband, all of those in my life.
The Nourished Seedling is my platform to share the recipes I make to help stay nourished and balanced, and the reflections which help make sense of life as it happens, as these are my lifelines to serenity. Despite never thinking it would happen, today, I am grateful for all of the hard times, the thickest mud. And remember, when you are in the thickest and deepest part of the mud, your most beautiful bloom may be just around the corner.